Date: 3/19/17 4:56 pm
From: Mark Chao <markchao...>
Subject: [cayugabirds-l] Sapsucker Woods, Sun 3/19
Highlights from Sapsucker Woods on Sunday morning (8:45-10:15 AM):

* A marvelous and mystifying creature out on the tallest snag in the main
pond. At first I thought it was an alien robot pod because its tapered
shape and face panel seemed superficially similar to those of EVE from
WALL-E. But then, from a better angle, I realized that it was more likely
an actual alien LIFE FORM (!), not a mere robot – and indeed probably an
intelligent one because it was wearing a thick, shaggy gray shawl. (Of
course one can also infer its intelligence simply because it somehow got
here from wherever it is from. But I did not find any signs of a

Animal taxonomy on this creature’s planet is evidently nothing like ours,
but from its various features, one can see analogies to our lepidopterans
(a pair of droopy antennae on a tiny black head), our macaques (a white
mane/beard), and even our birds (one long leg, not two, but with a
bird-like foot at the end). I know it is a little reckless to
anthropomorphize, but the white beard and contemplative hunched posture
make me think it could be a wise elder or even a royal figure in its

I got a couple of photographs.

This snag is where a pair of GREAT BLUE HERONS, including a male with a
missing toe, nested a few years ago. The nest fell in high winds around
2014, but the male returned in 2015 and 2016 during the day in spring and
summer to forage. Coincidentally, one of my photos shows the alien
creature with three toes on its bird-like foot, just like that male heron.
But my other photo shows four toes.

This post isn’t entirely OT (or ET)…I had some nice bird moments too.

* A male WOOD DUCK in the outlet stream along the Wilson Trail North. (I
was hoping to find a woodcock, but alas, the snow still extended all the
way to the edge of the stream, with no exposed ground anywhere.)

* A FOX SPARROW in the feeder garden, among many American Tree Sparrows,
one Song Sparrow, and one White-throated Sparrow.

* Marie Read’s photo exhibit in the Visitor Center’s auditorium. It is a
truly stirring and revelatory collection. Congratulations and many thanks,

* Encounters with a couple of moms and precocious young kids building bonds
and sharing learning moments over birds by the feeder garden. After
picking through several species with his mother and sister, one boy
exclaimed that he saw a “penguin bird.” His mom patiently tried to divert
the conversation back to the real birds before us, including Red-winged
Blackbirds and a male Northern Cardinal. But the boy continued,
insistently, “I saw a penguin bird! It had a black head, and its back was
all black too, and it was all white here [pointing to his own belly]!”
Another glance at the garden, and I understood. If you squint and free
your imagination, Dark-eyed Juncos DO look a little like puny penguin-birds
on the deep snow…

Mark Chao


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